Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Flying M Games’ Young Gunner: Jordan Michalski [Interview]

This modeled zombie face that only a mother could love is one of the many creations of Flying M Games’ founder: Jordan Michalski. As promised earlier this week, I am presenting an interview with this fifteen year-old with a vision.

Throughout the interview, I’ve scatted a couple never-before-seen images Jordan provided of in-game footage to his latest creation: Surreal System.

Tell me a little about yourself. What’s your computer background?

Hello! My name is Jordan Michalski and I am a 15 year old game designer and founder of Flying M Games. I have been 3d modeling and animating for six years and programming for two. Being 15, many people look at me like I’m too young to be doing what I am, but I believe that it is not age that matters, but the determination and work I have put into the game that does. “Surreal System” is the first “serious” game project I have worked on and I hope it is, in the end, as much fun to play as it is to develop!

Where are you located and what are you hoping to accomplish with this project?

Flying M Games is located in the United States, however, we do have people as far as Poland helping on it as well!
We hope to create a game that is so compelling and interesting that the person playing it forgets they are doing so.
We want it to be more of a surreal expierience than of just another forgettable title! We want to show everyone the world we have imagined and the ideas we have had that have come to be known as “Surreal System.”

How many others are involved?

There are currently three other’s involved in the production of the game, an outsourced composer working on the soundtrack, and a freelance concept artist. I strive to maintain communication and overall positive moral with the team. Everyone currently working on the game loves to play as much as they do to develop! Creativity is key and our team is full of it! Every day we will come up with new ideas, new art, and new characters or settings that we believe will make the expierience even more enjoyable than it might have previously been!

Have you or the others involved made anything before this?

Nothing of this caliber before. We have all worked on previous smaller projects but none as serious as this one.

What are you thoughts on making an FPS game for touch/smartphone versus computer/console?

FPS games for the IOS are rare and sometimes not up-to-par with current graphics or gameplay. We want to completely change that. The UDK has made so much more possible for us than anything in the past. The graphics we are currently testing on IOS devices are breathtaking and the framerate takes no punch! A huge roadblock for us is the controls. On a coomputer/console, many different buttons do many different things.

On an IOS, this can’t always be the case. We are working hard on developing a way that the player has both multiple views, multiple HUD’s, and multiple configurations. That way the gamer can customize the game to fit his/her needs! We believe that the touch/smartphone industry will, one day, be just as powerful and amazing as the comp/console is today!

What special things do you want Surreal System to be remembered for?

We want people to remember it as, not just a game, but an expierience. We want everyone to remember S.S. for it’s
interesting story, graphics, and overall ideas. I personally also want people to remember that, even though you may be younger or less expierienced than other people, never quit! Always practice, always strive to be better, and who knows, maybe one day you might be the best there has ever been. Just never give up!

[Thanks for the interview, Jordan! Everyone new to the story be sure to check out the Surreal System trailer to get all caught up on Flying M Games!]


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Superflat Games “Risking Everything” for Lone Survivor

Superflat Games aka Jasper Byrne has gone all in, betting on his next terrifying and pixel-filled project: Lone Survivor.

Photos and posts around Superflat’s blog and Twitter tell some of the mechanics; Lone Survivor has an item combination system, there’s a mirror gamesave system, and the hero fights off the horror creatures with a gun. Jasper stated via Twitter he would add a melee weapon, but players will only be able to use it as a last resort.

The music, the slow crawling pixels, and the carefully crafted lighting all seem to make for a thrilling ambiance. Check it out in the official trailer of Lone Survivor here:

As for how dedicated Jasper has become to the project, he stated the following today: “I’m going to be back at work on this baby full-time until it’s done. I’m risking everything on it financially, but I believe in it enough to do it.” Best wishes that the game makes the upcoming fall deadlines for the assorted indie game competitions and/or sees success upon completion!

Readers, what do you think of this trailer?


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Scoregasm from Charlie’s Games Pre-Release Demo

Not sure you want to take the plunge with Scoregasm, the arena shoot ‘em up from Charlie’s Games? The cats over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun have scored an exclusive pre-release demo of Scoregasm to try before its September release. The demo, like the game itself, has compatibility for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

The Scoregasm demo has the first 5 sets of levels, which the developer says will take “about half and hour to an hour to get through.” The game has been in development for some time, and Charlie’s Games has made a more current trailer in anticipation for Scoregasm’s release.

DIYGamer was able to experience Scoregasm at the EuroGamer Expo’s Indie Games Arcade last year. Mike Rose described it as one of the most mental he’s seen in a long while.

Why not give it a try and tell us all about it? Grab the Windows, Mac, and Linux download links for Scoregasm and enjoy! When you are ready, go ahead and pre-order Scoregasm to get in on the action early.


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Dream.Build.Play 2011 Semi-Finalists: Platformers

Dream.Build.Play 2011 coverage continues with a look at four platformer-centric titles: Blocks That Matter, Ninja Rising, Oozi: Earth Adventure, and TIC: Part 1. Of course, these games have more than just running and jumping mechanics to keep players entertained. Platformers have evolved quite a bit thanks to their proliferation on digital distribution channels.

From France comes Swing Swing Submarine‘s Blocks That Matter, a platformer with a healthy dose of puzzles. Players drill blocks of sand, wood, stone, obsidian, iron, and diamond and recycle each of these types of matter, which have specific behavior and qualities to be used to solve various puzzles.

Blocks That Matter is already available on the Xbox Live Indie Games channel and on Steam for Windows and Mac users. A Linux version will follow soon.

No one should be able to do “ninja” better than Japan, so it is fitting that Ninja Rising is by Japanese developer Cross Eaglet. In this 2D action platformer, players defeat approaching enemies and avoid traps with the help of controlling time and by switching between ninja and kunoichi (female ninja).

The visual and audio aesthetics in Ninja Rising are compelling, particularly the shadow effects seen in this trailer:

Oozi: Earth Adventure from Polish Awesome Games Studio is the most traditional 2D platformer of the lot. The DBP build seems to expand beyond Oozi: Earth Adventure Episode 1 that has already seen some success on the XBLIG service. In addition to the familiar story mode, the game has a mission based challenge mode and an arcade mode that has the levels of the story mode in a time limit.

The final platformer comes from USA’s RedCandy Games. TIC: Part 1 has also already made success on the XBLIG service. The titular Tic is an industrial robot controlled by the player. In true robot fashion, this isn’t standard platforming; players are hovering, boasting, unicycling, wall-drilling, helicoptering, and mining their way through a richly 3D-composited HD world.

Will one of these platformers take home the $40,000 this weekend? How about any of these other fine Dream.Build.Play contestants?


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XBLIG Summer Uprising Has Begun!

Today marked the second day of the Xbox Live Indie Games Summer Uprising, the continuation of the brilliant do-it-yourself marketing tactic: Winter Uprising. For 10 weekdays, the XBLIG community has ultimately curated some of what is the best the system offers at prices at or below 240 MS Points.

Monday marked the release of Raventhorne from Milkstone Studios for 240 MS Points. Raventhorne is a sidescrolling action/adventure game with some stunning visuals and bright shades of red flying in the air, as players hack and slash their way through various enemies. Milkstone seems to have incorporated some mythology to its game, as the character is a fallen hero seeking revenge on his way to Asgard before Ragnarok is unleashed.

Tuesday’s release brought Mattrified Games’ Battle High: San Bruno, a one- or two-player 2D fighting game for 80 MS Points. Though the title was previously released, this edition featured rebalanced characters to prevent infinite combos, a new widescreen mode, point scoring, three new mini-games, and updated art and music. The characters seem to be pretty smoothly animated, especially for an XBLIG title!

Taking a look into tomorrow’s release, ApathyWorks offers Cute Things Dying Violently.  While listed as a platformer, I’d call it more of a puzzle platformer. Each stage seems to have different mechanics to keep the cute things from dying violently. I find it only slightly ironic that the developer works in D.C. for the Department of Labor and created such a violent title. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe…

More ironic is that the game’s title seems to hint at your failure; then again, the purchasing power on XBLIG wouldn’t suggest Cute Things Surviving Safely to be a hit seller.

Interested in all the finalists and seeing them in Humble Indie cutesy art form? Check out the Summer Uprising’s official site.


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Dream.Build.Play 2011 Semi-Finalists: Puzzles

Dream.Build.Play’s big $40,000 grand prize announcement is approaching this weekend. There were twenty semi-finalists listed, and we’ve already looked at several of them. Today’s installment circles around puzzle games. There aren’t many sole puzzle games, but many games mix and match genres these days, anyway!

The puzzle theme, however, is prevalent in these three titles today. Bionic Thumbs’ Plugemons, Different Pixel’s Vizati, and Collective Mass’s Alien Jelly all play different tricks with the brain while keeping the eyes and hands busy.

Plugemons comes from Spanish developers Bionic Thumbs. It looks at first glance to be something so charming and cute that I feel like I would see it on iOS before XBLIG. And yet, the platforming along with the puzzles probably is better suited to a controller thanks to XNA dev tools.

Plugemons has 60 levels through 6 different zones, which involve some alien destroying, secret discovering, and puzzle solving. There’s a healthy amount of cooperating with other plugemons, too. Watch out for the humorous parodies in the Plugemons trailer below.


USA Alien Jelly is a 3D puzzle game.

From Portugal comes Different Pixel’s Vizati: a color matching game with mechanics quite different than the usual drop from above or shoot from below games. The player rotates the stage to make the colored pieces touch and match.

The following video has been around for a while, but this is the one the developers uploaded. Vizati has since been released on iOS, Windows Phone 7, and Xbox 360.

USA-grown Collective Mass (stylish website!) brings a 3D puzzle game entitled Alien Jelly. A DBP 2010 entrant, the title has apparently received enough polish to make it to the semi-finalist round this year. It’s great to see that someone’s dream to build a playable game doesn’t get squashed the first time around.

Alien Jelly is 3D not only in its graphics but also in its puzzle metrics. Players will rotate the world to get their stranded Alien Jellies to their rescue ship, so they can get back to lunch. Other mechanics include pushing crates, evading and destroying robots, and dodging “huge spiky things” while figuring out how to get home. I find the alien jellies to be somewhat disturbing (as brains in cubes), but perhaps that is part of their appeal.

These games are all vying for the $40,000 grand prize to be announced this weekend. Check out our previews of the other Dream.Build.Play semi-finalists in the meantime.


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Flying M Games’ Surreal System Seems Surreal

That ominous “thing” hovering over the populated city in the above photo for Surreal System certainly looks like it would be a top secret affair, but at the same time, how could an entire city or its experience be kept secret? Flying M Games‘ first person shooter Surreal System will be for iOS and PC. It shall include puzzle elements, adventure aspects, and mystery all packed together with a fun story and intriguing plots which hopefully tell how the above photo came to be.

The intrigue surrounding Surreal System extends beyond the game. The American-based Flying M Games is run by Jordan Michalski, who is only15 years old. He’s been tinkering around with programming for six years, making him a DIY developer before the age of 10. Surreal Sytem uses Blender for the modeling assets, and UDK as a game engine.

Interested in seeing what his current project looks like?

The intricacies of the plot in Surreal System may not be captured in the above trailer, so here is the following description excerpted from Flying M Games’ IndieDB entry:

“They have created a child but have taken away all of his feeling. This unlocks almost 90% of the brain. By taking away this physical response, the brain uses more of the brain capacity than ever. The child is locked in a cryochamber for 50 years being fed information about the world but only growing 18 years in age. When he finally awakens, the world is deserted except for the few underground. He can’t remember much but finds a machine that will help him remember what has happened to the world. He plugs in and takes a journey through the mind and his own deepest fears and emotions to uncover the truth and save the remainder of the world in utter destruction.”

We will have an interview with Jordan Michalski later this week.


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Attention Writers: DIYGamer is Hiring!

We here at DIYGamer have always sought to cover everything within indie games. The independent games industry has continued to grow in ways we’d have never dreamed. To keep up, we’re looking to hire you!

Well, maybe not you specifically — it all depends on your qualifications — but we are currently taking applications for one or two bloggers to help fill in the ranks a little bit. Here are the details:

Requirements:

  • You must know how to write well. This means avoiding run-offs, fragments, or blatant misspellings.
  • You must contribute consistently to the site. You must write two articles per day, five days a week. You must also write one FAQ/walk-through or top 10 feature a month (these are fun, and they pay more).
  • You should have a familiarity with WordPress and light HTML editing for articles.

Here’s what you need to send us to apply:

  • Your name
  • Links to four published pieces (ideally two news pieces and two features or reviews)
  • A list of what gaming platforms you own
  • A short paragraph explaining who you are and why you’d be great writing about indie games
  • Optional: contact information from a former editor-in-chief

Does all this sound like your type of gig? Great! We’ll be waiting for your application! Since this is a paying, part-time job, we also require you to have a PayPal address.

Please submit all requirements to jobs<at>diygamer.com.


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Dream.Build.Play 2011 Semi-Finalists: Shooters and Space

Dream.Build.Play recently announced the 20 semi-finalists for its 2011 competition. We’re looking at each one this week to see which developer is the master XNA coder… er, who impresses the judges the most with their game. For the remaining segments, I THINK I have divided the games up pretty fairly into sub-categories.

I find it interesting to see how many of a certain genre have made it into the final rounds. Out of the 20, only one is a twin stick shooter, one is a more traditional shmup (and even that goes against the grain with its 2.5D perspective), and one is a sandbox type in space.

France’s Live! Games submitted [Engo], a twinstick shooter. Other than using the right trigger, [Engo] literally is a two-stick game. It allows for up to 4 players, 6 arenas, and 6+ weapons. Each arena apparently has its own configuration which influences greatly the gameplay. The graphics have a polished, CG look to them.

Murudai‘s open world sandbox shooter, Solar 2, has been out on PC and Xbox 360 for a couple months. Instead of shooting asteroids or inhabiting planets, players ARE these objects! Solar 2 is the sequel to the 2009 released Solar. Steam liked Solar 2 enough to choose it for digital distribution, so it’s no surprise the judges liked this Australian release, too.

Canada’s own Firebase Industries developed the last title: Orbitron: Revolution. Instead of the usual on-rails/auto scrolling, players seem free to fly either left or right to dodge and destroy. Interestingly, there is no standard campaign/story/arcade mode. Orbitron: Revolution has a Countdown mode, which is a wave based score attack mode, and a tower-defense like Guardian mode.

Firebase stepped up its game and outsourced the music talent, to capture that intense sound that usually accompanies the shmup genre. The music is from Audio Antics (Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved), and sound design is from Studio X Labs (Homeworld).

That does it for today’s semi-finalists preview. Now, feel free to read about the other semi-finalists we’ve previewed. The Dream.Build.Play 2011 $40,000 grand prize winner will be announced next Sunday.


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PlayStation Network’s (Unofficial) Autumn of Indies Line-up

As Xbox’s Summer of Arcade draws to an end, Sony’s PlayStation Network has a trio of console exclusive titles lined up, with the first available digitally in the end of September. Rochard, PAYDAY: The Heist, and Sideway: New York offer something different to help satisfy gamers who want (hopefully) fresh, solid gameplay.

Rochard is an action-adventure, side-scrolling puzzle platformer from Recoil Games. It follows the story of astro-miner John Rochard who uses everyday mining tools to fend off space pirates and can manipulate gravity to solve environmental puzzles and advance through each level. Rochard releases on PSN September 27 for $9.99.

A bit larger than the other developers, OVERKILL Software is bringing PAYDAY: The Heist to PSN (and PC) October 4 for $19.99. In this squad-based first person shooter, players will join a four-person crew of hardened career criminals to execute six heists, including bank robberies, prisoner extractions and armored car hijackings.

In Playbrain‘s  Sideway: New York, players navigate through a 2D adventure platformer set in a 3D world. Using window ledges, drain pipes and graffiti tags, players will guide Nox around corners and onto roofs on a quest to defeat his nemesis Spray, rescue his friends and ultimately escape back to the real world. Sideway: New York will launch on PSN October 11 for $9.99.

Anyone excited for these games coming out this fall? Do you have your eye on any other upcoming PSN titles?

Video source: Machinima